Frequently asked questions
What is the ICJ?
The ICJ, or International Court of Justice, is the principal court of the United Nations. It exists to settle disputes between countries, as well as clarify matters of international law through advisory opinions. In order to accomplish this, we plan to have the UN General Assembly pass a resolution seeking an advisory opinion on the legal rights of future generations - you can read our draft resolution here. Another possible option is having a UN agency request an ICJ opinion, which has historically been more rare. Although much of international law is technically non-binding, opinions of the ICJ hold great legal and moral weight, and our strategy is endorsed by numerous legal experts.
Why rights of future generations?
In addition to the grave impacts of the climate crisis on natural habitats and biodiversity, it is important to our team to center youth from frontline communities, who often are not fully represented in the existing legal system. Much of our legal framework was developed by law students from island nations in the Pacific, and our co-signers include Green Climate Campaign Africa and other advocacy organizations around the world. Read more
What is your campaign's timeframe?
We are currently lobbying UN country representatives to pass a version of our resolution during the 75th General Assembly in September of 2020. Given the drastic climate effects in Greenland and elsewhere around the world in recent months, there is no time to waste!
What are the goal outcomes?
In addition to forcing UN representatives to confront the impacts of their actions (or lack thereof) on future generations, we hope that an advisory opinion will raise public consciousness, and encourage setting more ambitious goals under the Paris Agreement. Currently, Paris Agreement goals fall far short of what is needed.
Although UN Secretary-General Guterres has repeatedly called for more urgent action, more momentum is needed in the UN system to translate such goals into policy. An advisory opinion from the ICJ would be a powerful tool for courts around the world, and help solidify the consensus of 97% of climate scientists. Already, youth climate lawsuits have succeeded in Colombia and other countries around the world. We believe an opinion from the ICJ has the potential to empower young people globally, and ensure that the law hears their voices.
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